LibraryThing | Catalog your books online

LibraryThing | Catalog your books online

“LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. You can access your catalog from anywhere—even on your mobile phone. Because everyone catalogs together, LibraryThing also connects people with the same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, and so forth.”

I like LibraryThing. I like it a lot. You catalog your library and it compares it to other libraries. Reviews, tags, 200 books for free. $10 for unlimited. $25 for an unlimited lifetime. The T I will try to do a widget out of it to the sidebar to show what I’m reading.

Erg Blogging — by the numbers

Today I completed 30 minutes and broke the magic 7,500 meter mark, an indication that I can keep my splits under 2:00 for a sustained piece, which in turn is an indication that I’m getting back in shape.

Rowing is all about the numbers. I divide the stroke into a four-beat count of: catch, drive, finish, recovery and the Concept2 PM3 monitor tells me the rest: strokes per minute (I am most comfortable at a 24 rate, racers sprint at 34-36 spm), heart rate (my resting rate is 70, I need to calculate my basal, or waking rate, but while rowing I usually hang in the 150-165 bpm range with a finishing sprint in the 175 bpm range), watts, calories per hours,  meters elapsed, meters to go, projected finish time, etc. etc. etc.

In short, rowing is for number geeks. This is not a pleasant experience of watching the river bank slide by. Eyes in the boat, upright carriage, chin lifted to keep an open airway, and total focus on the balance of the boat. Well, on the erg it’s worse. Sit up right, try not to flail, don’t let your head roll around in agony, and ignore the sappy James Taylor song that comes on the iPod during the ultimate sprint.

My targets now are around weight loss, that means long pieces — like 10,000 to 15,000 meter sessions over 40 to 60 minutes — at a low rate, low effort, keeping my heart rate down in the 120 range. This is the definition of tedium. No challenge. No competition. Just grinding along letting my metabolism cook off fat cells. Hence I have graduated from the acclimation rows of 5000-6000 meters (20-24 minutes) to a half-hour, and after a couple weeks of consistently finishing the 30 minute piece (my favorite training distance and conditioning maintainer) I’ll graduate to the 10K.

So, getting there. Still too embarrassed to disclose my gross tonnage.

Sidenote: I received word from my agent that an actual royalty check for the Book of Rowing is on its way. Amazing that is still in print.

Pat McGovern on IDG and the InterWeb

MediaShift . Digging Deeper::InfoWorld Leads Way as IDG Goes Head-First on Web | PBS

From the I-Can-Dream-Can’t-I? Department:

“With speaking fees and book royalties you could be making $500,000 or $600,000 a year, and the poor journalist is making $70,000 or $80,000 a year working as an employee. So there are a lot of people who are realizing that there’s a lucrative career making a name for themselves instead of being an employee.”

Pat McGovern — my ex-boss at IDG from May 2005 to January 2006 — is the subject of a great interview by PBS’ Marc Glaser, former columnist for the spectacular IDG-backed flame-out of flame-outs, The Industry Standard. [Full disclosure, I tangentially came to IDG after trying to revive the Industry Standard domain and archives in discussions with then honcho Kevin McKean, and ex-Indy Standard-InfoWorld web GM, Matt McAllister. Those discussions went nowhere].

IDG, or rather InfoWorld, received a huge amount of buzz this week when the news came out that InfoWorld, a stalwart print brand for the IT world, would cease printing and go online-only after its next issue. With a lot of bloggers and media critics watching avidly for a sign that the world of mainstream print media is toppling, there’s no surprise that the InfoWorld news had the legs it did.

Glaser gets from McGovern the best expiation of IDG’s shift from print-to-web I have ever heard, including my one hour one-on-one with Pat during my hiring process as the online general manager for the CXO group. Without divulging any internal secrets, the plan in early 2005 was, as enunciated by McGovern, then CEO Pat Kenealy, and online/biz dev VP, Colin Crawford, to go to a 50/50 print/web revenue split as soon as possible …. meaning the crossover date wasn’t being predicted, but the strategic decision had been made and digested to put the IDG wood behind online.
I gained a lot of respect for my online GM peers, such as McAllister (who’s team which included Chad Dickerson and Jon Udell were the leaders in driving IDG’s thinking about RSS, death-of-the-page-view model, and other concepts which, at the time, were truly ground breaking for a traditional print publisher to embrace), Martha Connors, ex-COO of the MIT Technology Review who was the online GM of ComputerWorld, IDG’s flagship brand, (and an utter operational blackbelt when it came to rebuilding web publishing environments for total analytic/revenue/traffic optimization), and Kevin Normandeau, the online GM at NetworkWorld, who knows online marketing cold and is a master at lead gen and direct tactics. Me? I don’t know what I was good for, but IDG wasn’t a great fit for me … I thought getting back in online journalism was what I was meant for, but it turned out my heart was more on the business side of online.

Anyway, back to the Glaser interview of McGovern. What comes through for me, as someone who knew the strategy two years ago, is that IDG will probably position itself as an online-only publisher sooner than McGovern is estimating, and will look for ways to distinguish themselves through three decades of accrued brand equity around the ComputerWorld, PCWorld, MacWorld, and InfoWorld franchises into a stronger destination proposition for IT users. IDG’s biggest problem, in my opinion, is buried in its 10 corporate tenets — a mission that made it for years one of Fortune’s Best Places to Work — and that tenet is the devotion to decentralization that McGovern had to implement out of necessity when he was building the world’s first and most complex global publishing operation in the 70s. In that decade, pre-email, pre-fax, McGovern had to decentralize to put decision control in the hands of his country managers. Today, decentralization for IDG means redundancies, e.g. how many content management systems are needed? Web ops, at the lower levels of the IT stack, should be consolidated, and if IDG can get all of its brands onto a common platform it will at least be on the same footing as CNET and the printless competition.

Once on a common platform, the challenge will be to look at editorial redundancy. One of IDG’s secret weapons is its news service, which covers the breaking news of global IT very effectively. Does each brand need to cover a virus outbreak? A product launch? The editorial value at the franchises should move from providing check-box/fungible story oriented delivery to user content, community facilitation, and interactive services built around data assets — not reporting. Think tools, lists, and databases. It got Forbes.com out of the pack in ’95 and could do the same for IDG, particularly if it can leverage its secret weapon which CNET and Ziff don’t have, IDC, its global research arm.

Another key strategic differentiator for IDG — China. Pat McGovern was the first publisher to open up an operation there, his VC arm is very well connected, and IDG is a very well regarded brand inside of Chinese IT and web publishing circles.

If IDG is able to consolidate IT and reporting redundancies, continue the innovation path set by McAllister, Dickerson and Udell, capitalize on its shared databases — both industry and customer — and present a really strong global reach message to advertisers ….

They will do fine and make the transition without too much crying and broken dishes. The political-cultural shift has already happened, now its all execution and I suspect InfoWorld is just the first to be transformed. The company shifted senior management during my brief stint, bringing ComputerWorld CEO Bob Carrigan up to fill Pat Kenealy’s role as head of global publishing (Kenealy famously made the goofy call to ban deep-linking to IDG stories). Carrigan — who had been a Kenealy protege before following IDG investment Spinner to AOL — gets the online joke and brought together the online GMs into a task force that did quite a bit to break down the decentralization and inter-brand competition that traditionally plagued IDG.

I know Matt dinged IDG earlier this week with a “deer in the headlights” comment, which Colin Crawford took umbrage with. IDG was stuck in the middle of the road when Matt and I were there. He left a few months before I did, and we both were privately critical of the pace and urgency of the crossover.

But, rather than look at InfoWorld (and recollections of The Industry Standard) as signs of failure and pessimism in the print world, I remain a half-full guy and think IDG was being pretty ballsy to make the move it did on Monday with InfoWorld by going all into online with at least one of its franchises.

Town sinks oyster bag plan

Klimm sinks oyster bag plan (March 30, 2007)
Victory for oyster-bag opponents, defeat for commercial clammers in Osterville.

“They ruin the view.

But, more importantly, Barnstable Town Manager John Klimm decided yesterday, the bottom tackle under the floating oyster bags in West Bay are a potential navigational hazard to recreational boat users and other fishermen who use ”one of the most pristine and scenic waterfront residential areas of the town of Barnstable.”

DoubleClick Sale Could Risk Publisher Exodus

DoubleClick Sale Could Risk Publisher Exodus

News from ClickZ that DoubleClick is in play and could be sold — something we knew was coming after they were snapped up by a private equity outfit. MSN and Google are mentioned as contenders. Ad serving is the central nervous system of display advertising and integrating the data stream that comes out of an ad server’s cookie logs is crucial to an advertiser like me trying to correctly assign revenue recognition to specific campaigns. Thinking back to the old days of NetGravity at Forbes.com (which was acquired by DoubleClick), to the hell-on-earth known as ad ops at CIO.com (ad ops is the unwanted step-child of online publishing), to the potential of behavioral optimization, dynamic creative, and mid-campaign retrafficking …

The story is right, it’s a “Stale World,” but one I get worked up about after a couple beers.

“The stale world of online ad serving just got interesting again, as a possible acquisition of ad management firm DoubleClick was floated yesterday. According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft or another buyer may grab the ad serving colossus soon. If a deal with Microsoft does become reality, it would boost the firm’s online ad capabilities and make for readymade relationships with advertisers and agencies. However, it could put DoubleClick in hot water with its publisher clients, including AOL, which would be loathe to let the company access user data flowing through DoubleClick’s DART ad serving system, and which compete directly with Microsoft’s MSN for ad dollars. Indeed, AOL could be a potential buyer, some believe.”

Acts of aviation contrition – JetBlue rocks

JetBlue knows how to dig out of a hole. I just received this email from them, out of the …blue.

“Thank you for flying with JetBlue Airways on flight #1001 from Boston on March 26, 2007. We apologize that the DIRECTV® programming was inoperable during your flight.

As a gesture of apology and goodwill, we have issued each customer on your flight a $10 JetBlue electronic voucher.”

I didn’t complain. Heck. I don’t even watch the TV but use the time to take a machete to my inbox while listening to the opera (Vox) channel on XM. But, someone did and JetBlue took the time to email everyone else on the flight with a make-good.

Amazing how a little gesture can go so far. Amazon sent me something once, like the first year they were in business. I forget what the gift was, but, ten years later, I can still write about it. Peet’s just sent me a cheap travel mug-thing. I love Peet’s, their French Roast drip grind is my main vice. JetBlue just moved into legendary category with their make-good for a mistake I didn’t know about.

Machiavelli works at Waggener-Edstrom

The Long Tail: The Microsoft Memo: Some choose radical transparency, some have it thrust upon them

A good buddy and former journalism colleague called and said, “Dude, check out TechMeme, and look at the b.s. being slung about the Microsoft memo.”

Here’s the elevator summary: Chris Anderson, Wired’s editor, blogs about how Microsoft’s PR firm, Waggener-Edstrom “inadvertently” sent an internal memo discussing how Wired’s reporter, one Fred Vogelstein, was working a story; in fact the current cover story on the new trend towards corporate transparency.

Two points and then I’ll shut up.

1. PR firms are paid to profile reporters, anticipate their questions, know their biases, and study them like E.O. Wilson studies ants. The “oh my” reaction to this practice is complete naivety. This isn’t J. Edgar Microsoft.
2. Coincidence that the company that now personifies corporate transparency because of the ground broken with its corporate blog policy, Channel 9, and the ineffable Mr. Scoble, would happen to be the one “inadvertently” releasing an internal PR memo on that same story? I think not. Look at the buzzfest and I have to send a huge attaboy to whoever came up with the move … I salute you.

Here’s what Mr. Anderson wrote:

“…Yet the old company culture is not gone, as evidenced by an executive briefing memo from Microsoft’s PR firm, Waggener Edstrom, that Vogelstein was inadvertently sent in the body of a scheduling email. At nearly 6,000 words, it’s an amazing document and a telling counterpoint to the laissez-faire spirit of the open blogging initiative. Because it so aptly illustrates the parallel open vs. closed cultures that now exist at Microsoft, as in any big company trying to evolve a command-and-control messaging process to an out-of-control age, we decided to post the whole thing online in the spirit of transparency.

The memo coaches the executives on what to say and what not to say. It talks about Vogelstein’s interviewing style and possible biases (also how he’s “tricky” and “digs for dirt”–the memo cautions the executives to avoid certain paths and to watch out for traps). Here’s an example (emphasis in the original):

“”He is digging for tension where it does not exist. We have to be hard core on this point and communicate in no uncertain terms the level of executive commitment and support for Channel 9 and 10 [Microsoft’s videoblogging efforts]””

On a personal note, it’s kind of freaky to read the memo describe how I was wooed (even manipulated, if you want to think of it that way) into commissioning the piece”

On another note, Fake Steve Jobs is demanding outraged nerds flock to their local newsstand and buy up all the copies of this issue to protest the placement of a nekkid lady on the cover.